HUXGEIi 211 greater enthusiasm than any other part of the Hindu Pandit's speech. And now for the Muslim side of it. Writing in the Calcutta Statesman of October 12th, 1943, the Muslim correspondent ' Shahed? makes the following observations : 'The Muslim leaders have repeatedly begged the Hindu Opposi- tion to assist them in ending this tragic and shameful episode in Bengal's history. Even after the most atrocious libels uttered against the Ministry during the recent food debate in the Assembly, Mr. Suhrawardy made an appeal to the libellers to co-operate. The answer was, "'We will not listen to murderers P* To sum up, the debates in the Bengal Assembly, through, the long months of the crisis, afforded a sickening example of passion, prejudice, and irresponsibility.1 Reading them it is difficult to believe that these are grown-up men discussing an urgent and vitpl problem : they sound like naughty children. It is impossible to acquit either side of blame, but it is only fair to admit that the Muslims did try to achieve some sort of facade of unity. They may f not have offered the olive branch very gracefully but they did at least produce it. To quote again from "ShahedV article : "The Muslims are prepared to forget; their leaders are even now prepared to work hand in hand with their Hindu traducers, if only the latter will likewise bury the past, and above all, abandon tactics to gain communal and political ends, and regard the issue of Bc.igal's starving people as the only issue that matters.9 Our summary ib growing to unwarranted lengths. But the matter is too important to be skimped. We have seen that the two main causes of the famine were firstly the malignant forces of nature, and secondly the incapacity of the Indian Provincial Government to cope with the resultant situation. 1 Time and again the vital business of debate is interrupted in order to rehash some futile religious wrangle. The interested reader will do well to refer to volume LSIV (No. 3), p. 454 onwards, where he will find the opening acts of a typical Indian political drama. It arose from the demand of some Muslim students at the Pabna College, ior a small room in which to say their prayers As soon as the request was granted, the Hindu students gathered outside the room at prayer time and made »^Jpud noises with musical instruments. The result may be imagined; the whole college was in an uproar ; and the controversy spread to the Assembly itself. The reports of the debates give the impression that these matters were very much more* important to the delegates than the fate of their starving countrymen.